Black Muslim veterans speak out in Charlotte
The Department of Defense estimates there are about 3,500 Muslims in the U.S. military. Many of them struggle with misconceptions about their faith. A group of Black Muslim veterans gathered at a mosque in Charlotte today to talk about those challenges and to make clear their allegiance to the United States. WFAE's Julie Rose reports: Nasif Majeed flew more than a hundred Air Force combat missions over North Vietnam. He's a proud American veteran. He's also a Muslim American. And sometimes people ask if those two things conflict when his country is at war against other Muslims. "No, I don't see any conflict when you're fighting against . . .what are they fighting against? I don't see them fighting against Muslims. Muslims don't harm innocent people," said Majeed. He and half a dozen other Charlotte-area Muslim veterans at the commemoration at Mosque of the Witness said they constantly struggle to separate their peaceful religious beliefs from those of Muslims with extreme political or religious ideology. They also said religious insensitivity is a problem inside the military. Statesville Vietnam veteran Salahuddin Hasan recalls a phone call he got from his son who was serving in the Persian Gulf. "He was in tears," said Hasan. "He said, 'Daddy, what am I going to do?' He was loading bombs on airplanes, that was his job. He said 'We got bombs here that say vile things about Mohammed written on the bombs and I gotta help load these bombs. I said, 'That ain't our law. You can't kill God, son. You gave your word to your country. Stand up and be a man.'" Hasan says his son completed the assignment and was later commended by his captain. Muslims remain a small percentage of the American military at just 3,500 out of 1.4 million soldiers.